How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

 

You want to lose weight more than anything, but no matter how many goals you set, or how motivated you feel, or how many promises you make to yourself… you just can’t seem to stop sabotaging your progress.

Binging on an entire tub of ice cream. Skipping your gym sessions for a month in a row. Loading up your shopping cart with processed foods even though you swore you were gonna get your shit together this week.

I’ve been there, girl.

In fact, I still am there, sometimes. Self-sabotage isn’t a one-and-done type thing where you make a few changes and it disappears forevers. Rather, it’s something that involves taking an honest look at yourself, going within, and continuously taking steps to overcome it.

In this post, we’re going to dive deep into all things self-sabotage, including:

  • What self-sabotage is

  • The ways it might be showing up for you

  • WHY you self-sabotage (this part is important!)

  • A step-by-step system to overcoming your self-sabotaging behaviors

I’ve also included my signature “Self-Sabotage Tracker”, which you can download — fo’ free! — further down in this post. Ready?

 
How to Stop Self-Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals — The Ultimate Guide

what is self-sabotage?

First, let’s get on the same page in terms of what self-sabotage actually is. Here’s a great definition from Psychology Today:

Behavior is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems in our life and interferes with long-standing goals. Among the most common self-sabotaging behaviors are procrastination, self-medication with drugs or alcohol, comfort eating, and forms of self-injury such as cutting. These acts may seem helpful in the moment, but they ultimately undermine us, especially when we engage in them repeatedly.


Essentially, any behavior that interferes with your long-term goals is a form of self-sabotage. If your goal is to lose weight, some forms of self-sabotage you might be engaging in are:

  • Overeating or binge eating, even when you aren’t hungry

  • Pushing yourself too hard in your first workout and injuring yourself — and then having to take a week or two off to recover

  • Not moving your body or exercising, even though you know it’s important for losing weight

  • Choosing sugary, processed foods over healthier options

Self-sabotage comes in all different shapes and sizes, but it’s important to note that when it comes to weight loss, self-sabotage can include both action and inaction. In other words, deciding not to do something that you know will help you lose weight is also a form of self-sabotage.

why do we self-sabotage?

Logistically, it doesn’t make much sense. Why would we knowingly sabotage our progress toward our goals? But although it doesn’t make much sense, we continue to do it, over and over again, day after day, month after month, and year after year. And not just a few of us — the vast majority of us engage in self-sabotage in one way or another, at one time or another.

This begs the question: WHY on earth do we continue to self-sabotage?!

The answer involves a deeper look into how the human mind works — particularly, the subconscious mind.

Self-sabotage arises when your subconscious mind isn’t aligned with, or “onboard” with, your conscious goals.

Consciously, you know that you want to lose weight and get healthy.

But your subconscious has a different goal in mind: Keeping you safe. That’s the main function of your subconscious mind/ego. Survival. To keep you alive by any means necessary.

Your subconscious mind looks at life this way: Everything you’ve done in your life up to this point has kept you alive until now, so why switch things up? Clearly, the safest thing to do in terms of survival is to keep doing exactly what you’ve always been doing, because it’s gotten you this far.

Essentially, your subconscious mind works to keep you safe by keeping you the same. To your ego and subconscious, change is scary. It’s a threat to your existence.

So your subconscious exerts all of its power over you and influences you to do the same old things you’ve always been doing. Binge eating or overeating. Avoiding exercise like the plague. Turning to food as a source of comfort.

To your ego, new thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions threaten your survival and are to be avoided at all costs. The opposite is also true; the thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions that have been your dominant state for a long time are deemed “safe” and you’re encouraged to continue them.

This is why you set conscious goals, but then fail to follow through on them. Because your subconscious mind and ego are running the show.

In order to overcome self-sabotage, we need to:

1) Consciously examine your dominant thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions, and choose better, more empowering ones (ones that are aligned with your conscious goals).

2) Get your ego on board by convincing it that all of your new thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions are safe.

This is exactly what you’ll learn to do in my 5-step system for beating self-sabotage.

5 steps to overcome self-sabotage

Below is my 5-step process that will help you not only identify your self-sabotaging behaviors, but also determine the emotional, mental, and situational “triggers” that bring them about. You’ll also learn how to substitute new behaviors for your self-sabotages, which is the key step.

First, be sure to download your *FREE Self-Sabotage Tracker* by clicking on the image below. This tracker will be your best friend for the next few weeks as you uncover, explore, and eliminate your self-sabotaging behaviors.

 
 

Step 1. Recognize your self-sabotaging behaviors

Changing any kind of behavior always begins with awareness.

Over the next week or two, keep your eyes and ears open for any self-sabotaging behaviors that come up. These could include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Decisions and behaviors around exercise and moving your body

  • Decisions and behaviors around food and eating

  • Negative, non-empowering beliefs, thoughts, and statements you find yourself saying

Again, any particular action or inaction that isn’t aligned with your conscious goals of losing weight is a form of self-sabotage. Keep your Self-Sabotage Tracker handy and as soon as you notice yourself sabotaging, write the behavior down in your tracker. Then it’s time for some deeper exploration.

Step 2. Examine what happened in the lead-up.

This second step involves rewinding a few frames so you can examine what was going on internally and externally when you made the decision to self-sabotage. Because that’s what self-sabotage really is: a decision.

In your self-sabotage tracker, you’ll explore the thoughts, feelings, and environmental “triggers” that arose when you made the decision to self-sabotage.

Was there a particular thought running through your head? Perhaps something like, “I’ve worked hard today, I deserve it!” or “This will be the very last time…” or even, “Fuck it! I just don’t care anymore.”

Similarly, how were you feeling emotionally? Were you tired and worn out? Stressed? Anxious? Something else?

And finally, was there anything in your environment that contributed to your decision to self-sabotage? It could’ve been a certain person, something someone said, or even a certain room of your house or an activity that often leads you to self-sabotage. For example, maybe sitting down in bed at 8 pm to watch Netflix is what signals your brain to grab an entire box of cookies and binge eat.

Do some exploration into what was going on prior to the self-sabotage, write your findings down in your tracker, and then move on to step 3.

Step 3. Eliminate triggers, where possible

To make the process of overcoming self-sabotage as easy as possible, it helps to begin eliminating the things that often “trigger” you. I don’t love the word “trigger” and I feel like it’s heavily overused, but I’m using it here because it gets my point across.

Triggers could include certain people in your life, interactions throughout your day, different environments you find yourself in (restaurants, your car, a specific room in your house), or anything else related to your situation or environment.

Wherever possible, remove these people, interactions, environments, and stimuli from your life. They just aren’t serving you, and they don’t need to be there anymore. For example, maybe this means stepping away from your evening Netflix sessions and taking a bubble bath or going for a walk instead.

Or let’s say you realize that when you think about setting foot in a gym, you get all clammy and nervous and decide not to go at all. Why not remove the gym from the picture, and see if you can find some at-home workout videos on YouTube to try out? Or maybe signing up for a class at a local yoga or dance studio feels much less nerve-wracking and more fun, so you do that.

Step 4. Remind your subconscious that you’re safe.

Through this entire process, it’s important to continuously remind your subconscious mind that you’re safe. That although these new thoughts, choices, and behaviors might seem scary because they’re different, they are inherently safe and actually a good thing in the long-run.

One of my favorite ways to do this is through the use of positive affirmations — specifically, ones that begin with the words, “It is safe for me to…”.

Here are a few examples that you can try out for yourself. Simply say these statements out loud a few times each day until you really feel the message sink in.

It is safe for me to lose weight.

It is safe for me to be thinner.

It is safe for me to be healthy.

It is safe for me to feel good about myself.

It is safe for me to have my dream body.

For more information on affirmations and how they reprogram your subconscious mind, check out this post.

Step 5. Choose a new, substitute behavior.

Human behavior is a notoriously tricky thing to change, but one technique scientists have found that does work is substituting one behavior for another. So that’s what we’re going to do here.

Once you’ve been using your Self-Sabotage Tracker for a week or two, you’ll see some patterns start to emerge. For example, you might discover which thoughts or emotions generally lead to which type of self-sabotaging behavior, or which environmental triggers cause you to engage in a certain kind of self-sabotage.

From there, you can choose new, substitute behaviors for your self-sabotaging ones.

The key to making this work is to figure out what your soul (your higher self, your inner being, etc.) is actually craving in the moments leading up to your self-sabotage.

Maybe it’s comfort. Maybe it’s relaxation. Maybe it’s relief from stress or a sense of inner peace. Maybe it’s just that you don’t want to think about exercising/food/etc. anymore because it’s wearing you out.

Once you connect the dots, you can choose a new behavior to act as a replacement for each of your self-sabotages. Any behavior that makes you feel good and high-vibe is a great place to start.

For example, it could be:

  • Taking your dog for a walk

  • Having a bubble bath

  • Calling your mom on the phone

  • Reading a good book

  • Going for a drive

  • Getting out in nature

For this last step, choose a new, substitute behavior for each of your go-to self-sabotages. Then, commit to carrying out these behaviors instead of your self-sabotages whenever the urge arises moving forward.

You can also use affirmations like the ones I shared above to help drill this new set of behaviors into your subconscious mind. For example:

“It is safe for me to go for a walk instead of eating this entire box of cookies.”

“It is safe for me to chat with a friend instead of ordering a pizza.”

“It is safe for me to do an at-home dance workout rather than go to the gym.”

 
 

Bonus step: Give yourself grace.

As you’re working through this process, it’s important to give yourself endless amounts of grace.

This isn’t easy, and it’s not something you can just tick off a list. It’s an ongoing, ever-evolving process. But it all starts with your awareness and a willingness to change, and you’re reading this post because you have both of those things! 😊

From here, go out into the world with your tracker, explore what’s going on in the lead-up to your self-sabotages, and continue taking action on your new substitute behaviors.

It takes a month or more to form new habits, so stick with it. Don’t expect perfection right away, and remember that every single moment is a chance to choose again. A chance to make a better, more aligned decision.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this...

You are strong enough today to keep the promises you made to yourself yesterday.

I heard Rachel Hollis say this on her Instagram recently and it really struck a chord with me. Anytime I feel stuck, or overwhelmed, or have the urge to self-sabotage, I remind myself of these words, over and over and over.

I am strong enough today to keep the promises I made to myself yesterday.

I am strong enough today to keep the promises I made to myself yesterday.

I am strong enough today to keep the promises I made to myself yesterday.

I am, and so are you.

It’s time to crush your self-sabotage and make all of your weight loss goals a reality. If you’re ready for the next step, join me inside my signature program, Woo-Woo Weight Loss — and let’s get to work.